MacPhail talks Deadline intentions, eyes playoffs

Arrieta to attempt to pitch with bone spur; Realmuto placed on paternity list

July 12th, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies president Andy MacPhail sees what everybody else sees: The Phillies have holes on their roster, and one blockbuster trade for one impact player before the July 31 Trade Deadline is unlikely to change that.

That reality will affect the way they approach the Deadline.

“Hard for us to make the judgment now that we're one trade away from the World Series,” MacPhail said before Friday night’s series opener against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. “We don't believe that. I don't believe that. So, as a result, you're going to have to be more judicious with your playing talent. It doesn't mean you can't make a different type of deal, doesn't mean you can't make a deal where a component is taking on somebody's salary.”

In other words, it is difficult to imagine the Phillies sending a collection of their best talent in exchange for a rental player like Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner, who will be a free agent at season's end. It seems more likely that they would send a lesser package of talent to a team looking to unload salary or simply make multiple smaller trades, much like last season when they acquired Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilson Ramos, Justin Bour, Jose Bautista, Aaron Loup and Luis Avilan. Those trades came before the July 31 non-waiver and the Aug. 31 waiver deadlines. There is only one deadline this year: July 31.

“Our ownership has been pretty clear, and they've demonstrated by their actions, that salary is not something that is going to be ... it has to make some sense, but that's not going to be something that's going to hold us back,” MacPhail said. “I think from my standpoint, I'm going to be more judicious -- we win seven in a row on this homestand, I might feel differently. Given our current circumstances, I think I'm going to be a little judicious and careful about what talent's walking out the door.”

Things might change if the Phillies play better. They entered Friday at 47-43, which was good enough for the second National League Wild Card. But the Phillies are 14-21 since May 29, when they were 33-22 with a 3 1/2-game lead over the Braves in the National League East. Their rotation ranks among the worst in the National League, and for the moment, Jake Arrieta is going to try to pitch with a bone spur in his right elbow because the Phillies believe a hindered Arrieta is better than other internal options.

MacPhail said last October that the 2018 Phillies, which went 15-31 down the stretch, “were the most inconsistent team I have ever been associated with.” MacPhail called the 2019 Phillies “uneven.” 

The recent slide has put focus on manager Gabe Kapler and his coaching staff. Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said a couple weeks ago that Kapler will be his manager the remainder of the season and that no coaching changes are necessary.

MacPhail feels similarly.

“To me, honestly, I hate to even dignify that question with an answer,” he said. “We're in the postseason today, if the season was over. When this group came over, most of them, we won 66 games the year before. Our goal as a franchise -- and I'll just spread it out for you, just give it to you -- we wanted to have the quickest turnaround from a rebuild under a new regime to a postseason. That's four years. If the season ended today, we would've had our goal. We would be in the postseason in our fourth year. If we don't, we don't. But we still go for the ultimate goal, which is winning a world championship. To suggest for a second that there's something lacking at the leadership level, coaching level, I just don't believe that.”

The four-year timeframe is referring to Klentak’s arrival in Oct. 2015. The Cubs made the postseason in 2015, four seasons after they hired Theo Epstein in Oct. 2011. The Astros also made the postseason in 2015, four seasons after they hired Jeff Luhnow in Dec. 2011.

And if the Phillies don’t make the playoffs this year?

“I'm saying then we're not going to be the quickest turnaround,” MacPhail said. “We're just going to have to settle for doing it later than we wanted to.”

Herrera could return

Odubel Herrera is serving his season-ending 85-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. MacPhail said that the Phillies cannot release Herrera, unless there is a baseball reason, as stated in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“Our agreement requires that a player comes back, subject to him being evaluated based on what happens on the baseball field,” MacPhail said.

“He gets counseling as part of this. He comes to Spring Training and we'll see where his talents and abilities take him from there. We'll see what he's stacked up against. Right now, we have [Andrew] McCutchen and [Jay] Bruce. We have [Adam] Haseley. We have [Roman] Quinn. We have [Bryce] Harper. It's a crowded outfield. So we'll have to see how he performs on the field.”

The Phillies can trade Herrera at any point.

Arrieta will try to pitch with bone spur

Arrieta said he believes that he can pitch with a bone spur in his right elbow, so he will try to pitch Sunday against the Nationals.

“I think it’s something that I can manage, that we can work with, and try to get through the rest of the season,” he said. “The last thing I want to do is shut it down now and have the surgery now and miss the remainder of the season. We’re still trying to do some special things this year. We’re still in position to do those things that we’ve been talking about the last couple of years. I think I still have a lot to offer the team and can still help us win. I’m going to do everything I can, and as will the trainers and our staff, to keep me in a position where I can go out every fifth day and make it work.”

Arrieta described the spur as a “pretty good marble in there that’s blocking the joint.” He hopes a change in hand positioning can help him pitch without as much pain and more effectiveness.

“It’s not something that I can’t get through,” he said. “The biggest thing is the effectiveness. If I’m out there and I’m costing the team a game, we’re going to address that.”

Extra bases

J.T. Realmuto is on paternity leave after his wife gave birth to a girl Thursday. Realmuto is expected to rejoin the team Saturday. The Phillies placed right-hander Pat Neshek on the 60-day injured list and promoted Triple-A catcher Rob Brantly to give the Phillies a second catcher Friday. Neshek had a PRP injection in an attempt to heal his Grade 2 left hamstring strain. He hopes to rejoin the team in early-to-mid-September.